Monday, June 21, 2010

Training with a PAC

It just comes down to the fact that working toward a goal with like minded people, interested in having fun at the same time is one of the reasons why I like training for triathlons and it's THAT time of year again!  I joined the inaugural Power PAC group from the local gym I belong to and now we are off and running with year #2 of training.

Here's to another year of memories and laughs ladies!

Seattle Danskin 2009
(back: Gnome, Sheenah, Tara, Audrey, Liz, Betsy, Annika, Jen, Elisa, Mary
front:  Michele, Lori, Julie, Laura)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Save the Date

The NW Adventure Chics are entering the world of race directing. We are excited to be organizing the 1st Annual Poulsbo Marathon and Half Marathon, here in beautiful Poulsbo, WA and the surrounding area.

1st Annual Poulsbo Marathon
and Half Marathon

Lutefisk, Lefse, Ya Sure You Betcha!
October 17th, 2010
Full Marathon Run
Half Marathon Run/Walk

Both Races Start and Finish at North Kitsap High School

Stay tuned for more info!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Books That Motivate

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports
 by Kathrine Switzer

"The most important running book in the last ten years." - Marathon and Beyond

Chapter 12 Official at Last

"And so, ladies are welcome at Boston. But you have to meet the men's qualifying time!" -Jock Semple (somewhat grudgingly), April 16, 1972

"We were official! We did it! It was an exhilarating victory and the end of a six-year campaign that was by turns controversial, exasperating, and exhausting. We were free to be athletes and no longer had to run carrying the banner of the whole female sex. It was very important: this acceptance marked the first time in history that women were given permission (and thus, endorsement) to participate in what had previously been a men-only sports event. We knew we were breaking down a political and social barrier just as surely as our suffragist foremothers did when the won the right to vote, or forced universities to become coeducational."    - Kathrine Switzer

In 1967 Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon (others had run, surreptitiously hiding in the bushes by the start and joining the race in progress, never receiving official recognition),  flying under the "no women" policy radar by entering as K. Switzer. She diligently trained for the race with her college track coach  and on race day was supported and encouraged by the somewhat surprised male runners around her. However, when the race director spotted her and recognized that she was clearly a woman, he was far from happy about it.

"....I heard the scraping of leather shoes coming up fast behind me, an alien and alarming sound amid the muted thump-thumping of the rubber running shoes........before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back screaming,"Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" -Kathrine Switzer, on her skirmish with Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple (Chapter 7)

That was just the beginning of Kathrine Switzer's efforts to make the Boston Marathon, as well as other distance events, open to women, and ultimately to get the marathon added for women in the Olympic Games in 1984. This is a fabulous, and  inspiring memoir. A "must read" for all runners, as well as those interested in the history of civil rights.

Happy reading folks! - Michelle

click here to link to the book at Barnes & Noble: Marathon Woman, by Kathrine Switzer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chilly Hilly With A Toe Jam Kicker

Shawn, Elisa, Greg - Near Battlepoint Park

***Warning, intrepid cyclists only need apply. ***
Oh, yeah, that's us.
 Welcome home Daddy-O! My dad just rolled into town fresh from the dry desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona, so we decided to reaquaint him with the joys of cycling in Kitsap County, Washington. We (us year round Washingtonians) thought it was a warm day. It had to be in the upper 60's, for sure, maybe even the low 70's, and the sun was gracing us with it's presence. Shawn, Elisa and I all whipped our jackets and/or sleeves off after the first few hills on the approach to Battlepoint Park on Bainbridge Island. He kept his thermal underlayer on. It is a true testament to how well the body adapts to different climates.

A "woo" worthy climb. One of many.

Shawn, Michelle, Greg, Elisa with Illahee Beach State Park across the water behind us.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

Just to add a little fun and extra challenge into our adventure, Shawn led us through Fort Ward State Park, and out along the water on the south side of the island. It seems the park is not currently being maintained, but it is still suitable for biking. Shortly thereafter, as we were strolling along the water just admiring the view, we took a sharp left and, gulp!, craned our heads upwards as we scrambled to get into a manageable gear for our attempt up Toe Jam Hill-site of the annual Toe Jam Half Marathon.

It was a close call, and we certainly were wishing for mountain bike gears, but we made it up the steepest section, and after that, although we were still climbing, it almost felt like we were heading downhill, such was the relief we felt. There were still many more hills to conquer and downhills to freewheel. My Cateye clocked my top speed at 39.8 mph. Yahooooo! Good thing I didn't hit a pothole-but what fun.

Welcome Home Dad!!! -Michelle

Bainbridge Ferry with Seattle Skyline

About three hours into our ride, my Dad (a.k.a. Greg) was shaking his head at our distance covered. We had pulled off along the east side of the island, along a beach road with a stunning view of Seattle across the Salish Sea, to gobble down whatever food or gels we had left at that point. We were 40 miles into our ride. "I'm usually at home and relaxing in the pool by now," he quipped. "Welcome back," laughed Elisa. "No kidding," he replied with a wry grin. The hills really do slow you down. Fact.

We continued on the roller coaster route, making our way back to the Agate Pass Bridge, which leads into Suquamish and onto Poulsbo. We will all be riding together in the upcoming Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, otherwise known as the STP, next month. This ride was a great confidence booster for all of us. I think we are all really looking foward to our upcoming 200+ mile jaunt from the Emerald City to the Rose City.

55 miles, 4 hours: A challenging social ride. :)

Happy riding folks!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Hammer Nutrition

I recently attended a West Sound Triathlon Club meeting where Brian Frank, owner and co-founder of Hammer Nutrition spoke on endurance nutrition needs and guidelines.   His talk was aimed at those of us that train for events lasting more than 2 hours and really closer to 3 hours in duration or greater.  This could include triathletes, marathoner runners and century cyclists. 

I am providing a general overview (from my notes) as to the highlights of the discussion.  I am not making any judgements to the truth behind his statements or opinions, nor am I assuming I have perceived his information 100% correctly, as he intended it to be perceived.  It is just information.

Brian's discussion was broken down into three main talking points, highlighted below and discussed in greater detail to follow:

  1. Fluid
  2. Calories
  3. Electrolytes

We, as a whole, live in a state of dehydration.  Then right before an event, we pack in the fluids.  Our body has adjusted to the dehydrated state and now doesn't know what to do with the excess water - it is confused.  We should effectively hydrate always.  RULE OF THUMB:  1/2 of your body weight in ounces each day - throughout the day (don't drink more than 20-24 oz. in any one hour).  Also, know how much you have been drinking.


As a whole, we tend to over consume on calories.  If we are following a training schedule that allows for a period of tapering, there should be no need to 'carb' load prior to a race event.  The reduction in activity and training will provide adequate calorie or a deposit into a carb bank to aid on event day.  Carb loading the evening before an event will only make you 'full' and will make for a potential stomach/GI concern, which is never good on race day.

We need to figure out how many calories our bodies need to sustain energy levels throughout training and competition.  That number should be the least amount one can consume, any more than that is unnecessary.  The number should be no more than 200 calories/hour MAX.  For triathletes, those calories are consumed on the bike and during the run.  Need to keep in mind that you will not want to feel full as you are coming off the bike and moving into the run - monitor those calories carefully.  When running, our bodies process fewer calories - about a third fewer than on the bike. 


On average, we consume over 8,500 mg of sodium each day.  Our bodies only need 1,800 - 2,400 mg of sodium daily.  Therefore, our bodies can not process sodium correctly and have adjusted to high sodium nature most of us have.  It was noted that if you are serious about performance - CHANGE DIET! 

Be honest with sodium.  If you operate in a low sodium state and were fast prior to the race you can replace sodium.  Sweat = high sodium diet.  Don't be afraid of replacing if managed. 

How do we know if we have too much = SWELLING.


To ensure that our bodies are burning fat energy vs. glycogen (muscle) energy, it is a good idea to train and start races on an EMPTY stomach - for any event, short (sprint tri) or long.  There is no need to eat.  It takes three hours to digest - plan from there.   Not a bad idea to take in 100 calories (gel) as you enter water for the swim and then once on the bike fuel up as your caloric needs require.

Summarized by Elisa

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Books That Motivate

***One of Sports Illustrated's Ten Best Books of the Year***

"What emerges here is an athlete whose determination is so fierce that it seems almost exotic. She is fit. She is focused. She is Lance Armstrong with body fat." - USA Today

Excerpt from the book:

"The tide was racing at maybe ten knots by now, and the strength of the whirlpool was growing. Immediately, I cut to the right and swam with all my strength. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw John and the skiff captain caught on the outer edge of the whirlpool." (On her way to being the first person to have swum across the Strait of Magellan.)

"I can do this; I really can do this, without a wet suit or anything to warm me. It is amazing how incredible the human body is that it can do so much. That it can go beyond the everydayness of life; that it can be extraordinary and powerful, and harbor a spirit of hope and pure will." -Lynne Cox

Sometimes the perfect book falls into your hands right when you need it most. If you're training for a triathlon or straight out open water swimming event and you are looking for some motivation, you seriously need to read this book. Oh yeah, and everyone else out there too, swimmer or no. This woman's accomplishments and spirit are truly inspirational.

She set the first of her many world record open water swims when she crossed the English Channel at only sixteen. She eventually swam across the icy Bering Strait-without a wetsuit. She has been studied by scientists eager to find out how she can survive in water temperatures where most would quickly perish. In her book, she does a wonderful job of taking the reader into her mind, so that I felt like I was swimming right there alongside her-if only I had the athleticism, skill and mental toughness to do so.

Happy reading folks!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Mudfest at Blue Lake

June 6, 2010 - Blue Lake Triathlon & Duathlon - Olympic Distance (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run); (5k run/40k bike/10k run) -  Fairview, OR

***My First Olympic Distance Triathlon***

What's that big bright thing in the sky? - When my husband and I arrived in Portland on Saturday, June 5th, the sun was shining and it felt like summer, which was very welcome after experiencing one of the coldest, wettest May's on record this year here in the Pacific Northwest. After picking up our race packets at Blue Lake Park, we dropped our bikes off in the transition zone with numbers attached (they would be secured overnight by event staff) and headed over to the swim beach to have a look at the lake.

Blue Lake is beautiful and with the warm, sunny weather it was tempting to get our suits on and jump in for a swim. Families and kids were playing in the water and soaking up the sun. The swim course was already marked by big green and red buoys. There had been a sprint distance triathlon, as well as kids triathlon already that morning. A typical sprint distance triathlon involves a 1/2 mile swim, a 15 mile bike, followed by a five kilometer run (3.1 miles). Distances can vary a bit depending on the course.

Parking for the course was moved to the Chinook Landing about 1.5 miles from the park due to excessive precipitation the week prior, rendering the grassy fields that were to be used for parking a muddy mess. In order to save the grass from being completely ruined, cars needed to be kept off it as much as possible. Shuttle busses were available to deliver us to the transition zone from the parking lot on race morning.

After checking out the lake we headed back towards Portland to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Benson, a beautiful, historic hotel right on Broadway. Unbeknownst to us, the annual Rose Parade and Starlight Run were scheduled for that evening and would run right past our hotel. Oh, goody. lol. So much for early to bed; might as well enjoy the festive mood surrounding us (shoulder shrug and grin). We should have added that run to our weekend, had we only known sooner; I do love to dress up!

Apparently Portland has more micro-breweries than any other city in the United States; my husband was keen to check them out (okay, I was interested too), so we strolled over to Deschutes Brewery for appetizers and fresh drafts.  After enjoying the great atmosphere there we headed over the Henry's, to enjoy their outdoor patio dining and watch all the costumed people fueling up before the Starlight Run and the Parade. It was the perfect evening for a parade: warm and windless.

We enjoyed the run and some of the parade from our hotel window, which got rolling around 9:30 p.m. We knew though, that we had to rise early the next morning in order to be ready to race at 8:00 a.m. in Fairview, so we closed the shade well before the festivities ended and drifted in and out of sleep to the tune of marching bands and parade revelers, until the police cleared the streets around midnight.

Race morning dawned with the pitter patter of rain on our window. Say what?! Yes, rain. Breakfast was coffee and a Cliff Bar for both of us. We left our hotel at 6:15 a.m. and headed to Blue Lake, having to switch lanes on the freeway as our car was hydroplaning in the puddled ruts. Could it rain any harder? It always does right when you pose that question, doesn't it? We parked at Chinook Landing and joined the line of triathletes waiting in the downpour for the shuttle buses. We were all shaking our heads and laughing at the abrupt change in weather. Yesterday had been so promising!

After arriving at the park, we made our way toward the transition zone, with a quick stop at the restrooms on the way. I was using an umbrella in a mostly futile attempt to stay dry (and warm) until the race start. We half joked that we should have stayed at the hotel, slept in and partook in the special champagne brunch they were hosting in one of their restaurants that morning.

Bodies marked, bikes racked, helmets, shoes, etc. organized for a speedy  transition at our assigned rack locations, we wished each other good luck and Shawn headed off to start his duathlon, while I finished donning my wetsuit and headed down to the lake.  The duathlon and first wave of triathletes began at 8:00 a.m. Waves began in five minute increments according to age, with the elites starting the race off first in a special "elite" wave. My wave began at 8:30, so I had time to start getting a chill in my wetsuit while waiting on the beach.

The 60 something degree water felt downright tropical when I  got in and swam out to the starting corral with the other gals in the 40-49 age group. After all my worries and preparations for the swim, it ended up being the best part of the race. Swimming in the rain is much more enjoyable than racing your bike through street wide puddles. I felt relaxed most of the swim with the exception of swallowing a bit of water from an unexpected wave in my face and the few times that faster swimmers in the waves behind me bumped into me as they overtook me on their way to the finish. My swim time was 38:38. It's relatively slow, but for me it was a victory. I exited the water running and feeling good, already unzipping my wetsuit and pulling my arms free as I ran through the mud toward my first transition (T1).

Wetsuit off, helmet on, glasses on, then off (better vision without in the downpour!), bike shoes on, bike jersey on, grab bike and run through the muddy, grassy chute to the road. Ding. Bike leg has started. Clip in and go! The bike leg is a mostly flat course with two out and back sections, the second one along the river(?) and airport. There were a couple dicey spots in the park where we had to cut through the muddy grass, making a u-turn back to the transition zone.

Cycling past the airport on the return to the park, a plane took off to my right, heading the opposite direction as me, while a blue heron simultaneously glided across the road right in front of me. At that moment, I felt very glad to be out there, pedaling hard in the inclement weather.

During the bike leg I had a little competition going with a very fit older (68) gentlemen on a tri bike. I caught up with him and passed him about 7 miles into the course, after which we leapfrogged each other at least seven times. If one of us lost concentration or paused to hydrate or fuel up, the other would pounce and pass. It really made it fun and kept the pace going for both of us. Drafting is not allowed in triathlons, so when you pass, you have to do it decisively and the other person may not grab on to your wheel as you would see in races such as the Tour de France. In triathlon, you are on your own and it is essentially a time trial.

Twenty five miles later, as I dismounted and jogged back through the mud with my bike, I realized that my legs felt really good and ready to run. This was partly thanks to my good fueling and hydrating efforts during the bike leg. (Gels at miles 1 and 22, with electrolyte drink steadily along the way.) My T2 (transition two: bike to run) was faster than my T1, but would have been speedier if I had been able to get my helmet off more quickly! My hands were wet, cold and stiff, so stiff that I had a really hard time just squeezing the little chin-strap buckle. I finally got it off and quickly slipped my shoes on in the mud (no socks), grabbed my hat and race belt and headed out of transition to the run portion of the race. The approach to the run leg exit resembled a pig pen, with the mat virtually camouflaged in mud.

As I started off through the park my legs felt good and I picked up my pace. Mud and puddles really don't bother me when I'm running. As others jogged around each puddle, I splashed right through, high stepping it as I went. Two miles in and 4.2 miles to go to the finish, I had a smile on my face. It was hard but I was having a blast out there. I had passed numerous people on the bike leg, but on the run I was overtaking people left and right. I offered up some "good jobs" and some were tossed my way as well.

About 150 yards from the finish line I spotted at gal with the number 40 on her right calf (someone in my age group!). I sped past her, up away from the lake, and down through the finish chute, almost losing my shoe in the mud as I approached. Whew, I did it! Shawn was there, freezing his butt off in the pouring rain, waiting for me. He soon headed off on his bike, back to the van to find something warm to wear. My run time was 46:59.

Shawn did great in the duathlon and I'm hoping to keep improving on my swimming abilities for future triathlons. What a great feeling to have trained and finished successfully. It's all about actively living life. There is just so much out there to experience. Rain or shine, it's all grand.

Ride on folks!


Friday, June 4, 2010

Reflection and Refocusing

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some recent events and discoveries are requiring me to slow down and reflect on many different things on many different levels.  I guess you could say I have been forced to stop and smell the roses.  While I will not be partaking in this weekend's Blue Lake Tri as Michelle and her husband will be (and as my plan and training has worked toward) but I will definitely be cheering them on in spirit!   

I leave you with this...

We Are a Part of the Earth

...the earth's swift rivers, the silent footsteps of spring, the sparkling ripples on the surface of the ponds, the bright colors of the birds.  We are a part of the earth and it is a part of us. - Chief Seattle (c. 1790-1866)

We Belong to Each Other

We may wonder whom can I love and serve?  Where is the face of God to whom I can pray?  The answer is simple.  That naked one.  That lonely one.  That unwanted one is my brother and my sister.  If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  -Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Adventures in Open Water Swimming

There I was, back at the lake again. It was cloudy and cold, but calm. The water was glass. I had a friend with me who was a very competent swimmer. She left it up to me as to where and how far we would swim. I decided on a couple warmup loops close to shore before heading across the lake. It was a quarter mile swim across and I felt strong and relaxed this time, if not especially speedy.

After arriving at our destination, we chose another point to swim to further up the lake, adding another quarter mile. I arrived at our second resting spot feeling good and so with encouragement from my buddy, we decided to swim the full half mile straight back to the swim beach where we had originally started.

The trickiest part of this portion was sighting. The beach was a long way off and at one point I looked up and realized I was swimming in a circle! Yikes. Redirect. This was followed by a bit more zigzagging by both of us until we reached the shore. I'm not sure how much we added on to the distance by swimming slalom, but I finished feeling strong and picked up the pace for the final 100 meters.

I DID IT!!! I swam a whole mile in the lake. Our last half mile took us twenty minutes,well, really me, because my friend kept getting ahead of me and then swimming back. If I can keep up that pace for the swim portion of my upcoming triathlon I will be out of the water in a reasonable forty minutes, with my legs still fully rested, as I have given up using my kick at all. I can do the whole swim without kicking at all due to all the balance drills I have been practicing using the Total Immersion drill series. In the end, that is what has brought me to the place where I can comfortably swim a full mile without tiring. If I keep it up, I know I will eventually get faster. An added benefit is that my legs will be fully ready to cycle and run, which are my strong suits.

I'm actually starting to look forward to this Olympic Distance Triathlon. Who would have thought? Probably everybody I know except me. LOL.

Michelle's Swim Training for Olympic Distance Tri:
Week 1: Wed.- TI Drills; 10x100 w/ 8 rest breaths; Thurs. - same as Wednesday
Week 2: No swimming (family vacation)
Week 3: Wed. - TI Drills; 10x100 w/ 6  breaths; Thurs. - same as Wednesday but took more rests at wall
Week 4: Wed. - TI Drills, 12x100 w/ 6-8 breaths; Thurs. - same as Wed.
Week 5: Wed. - TI Drills, 12x100 w/ 6 breaths
Week 6: Tues. - Drills, 12x100 (6 breaths); Thurs. - TI Drills, Swim w/ fists, pull buoy, 12x100 w/ 6 recovery breaths and half with no kick
Week 7: Tues.- 800 yds.
Week 8: Tues.- Lake swim 800 yds.
Week 9: Tues.-Lake swim 650 yds.; Thurs.- Lake swim 800 yds; Sat.-Lake Swim 800 yds.
Week 10: Mon.-(pool) 1500 straight w/ pull buoy; Wed.-(pool) 800 yds.; Thurs.- Lake Swim 1750 yds.
Race Week: !!!!!??????